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This review reveals significant associations between obesity and liver, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers.

Obesity has become a major public health issue over the last few decades. It has been associated with multiple metabolic syndromes and an increased risk of malignancies. Moreover, growing evidence shows that weight loss may lower the risk of developing cancer. A study in the EPRA International Journal of Research and Development has reviewed the latest evidence on the association between obesity and different types of cancer.

Liver Cancer

Obesity is a cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is characterized by excessive hepatic accumulation of triglycerides without hyper-alcoholism and other liver morbidities. NAFLD affects one-fourth of the global population and may lead to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NAFLD is considered the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. Research has shown an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma with NAFLD.

Prostate Cancer

The association of obesity with the pathophysiology of prostate cancer is ambiguous; however, numerous studies demonstrate a substantial inverse relationship between obesity in early life and prostate cancer prognosis. Research shows that obesity is associated with higher mortality and an increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

Breast Cancer

Obesity is a prominent factor in the pathophysiology and progression of postmenopausal breast cancer. Adipose tissue is the main site of estrogen production after menopause; therefore, obese women have higher postmenopausal estrogen levels and are more susceptible to the pro-tumorigenic effects of estrogen. 

However, the evidence for the link between obesity and breast cancer is complicated by cancer subtype and menopausal state. The increase in the relative risk of breast cancer in obese postmenopausal women is mainly attributed to the higher frequency of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. 

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Obesity is also linked to the emergence and progression of postmenopausal triple-negative breast cancer. The genetic biomarkers of higher body mass index (BMI) also correlate with breast cancer risk regardless of menopausal status, age, or family history. Moreover, obese individuals also suffer from altered metabolism and a chronic inflammatory state.

Colorectal Cancer

Multiple metabolic and physiologic alterations in obesity promote carcinogenesis. The change in the gut microbiome is another component of obesity that has been linked to colorectal carcinoma. Studies in Europe have attributed higher BMI to 11% of colorectal cancer incidences. Some studies suggest that the link between obesity and colorectal cancer is stronger in men than women.


Tzenios, N. (2023). Obesity as a risk factor for different types of cancer. EPRA International Journal of Research and Development (IJRD), 8(2). https://doi.org/10.36713/epra12421